Administrative Law

Drug Tests and Your Nursing License

nursing drug testNurses and Lawyers have (at least) one thing in common: We both had to work really, really hard for our licenses. Lots of classes and lots of tests and then one big test (NCLEX!) and finally—Ah, finally!—the nurse gets the right to wear the scrubs and the lawyer gets the right to wear the suit.

So now that we have our license, it’s important that we keep it, right? In Arkansas, nurses are subject to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing. A nurse can get in hot water with the Board for many reasons, including positive drug tests, discrepancies with unwanted or unused drugs, falsifying medical records, failure to keep adequate records, failure to complete continuing education hours, etc.

One of the most frequent issues is the positive nursing drug test. The reason for the drug test itself is often just a co-worker or unsatisfied patient (or disgruntled girlfriend/boyfriend) that wants to cause problems for the nurse. Most often, the nurse shows up for work and is unimpaired but has drugs in his or her system. (So, for instance, the nurse has used drugs sometime in the past several days when he or she was not at work or on call.)

Upon arriving at work, he or she is required to take a nursing drug test.

What happens next can strongly impact the next steps an Arkansas nurse must take. (For more information about grounds for nursing discipline, go here.) If a nurse does fail a drug test, he or she will likely lose their job. If you fail the test, your employer will now report your failed drug test to the Arkansas State Nursing Board. However, depending on the circumstances, the nurse may want to self report the violation to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing.

Once you are reported to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing for a positive drug test, you will likely receive a letter asking you to surrender your nursing license for a period of one year. At the end of that year, you may re-apply and will likely be put on some form of probation, which may require call-ins to see if you have been selected to be drug tested that day, along with reports by you and performance evaluations by your new employer (if you can find one).

In most situations, you will not want to surrender your license.

As of November 2018 the Arkansas State Board of Nursing has a new program called the Alternative to Discipline Act. This law allows a nurse to enroll in treatment or “rehabilitation” as the act calls it. The program is for nurses who self-report; are referred to the alternative to discipline program by the board; or sign an initial agreement with the program coordinator to oversee the nurse who failed a test.

To be referred by the board, the nurse must not have any prior discipline flags on their record.

If the nurse fails or refuses to cooperate and complete the program they can be disciplined for failure to comply with the agreement they struck with the board to enter the program.

Because your nursing license is so important, you should hire a lawyer to help you defend yourself against an alleged violation of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing rules. There are many reasons why you might not have to surrender your license, and it is critical that you understand your rights. You must find someone who is experienced in negotiating with the Arkansas State Board of Nursing.

Because your nursing license is so important, you should hire a lawyer to help to defend yourself against an alleged violation of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing rules. There are many reasons why you would not have to surrender your license, and it is critical that you understand your rights. You must find someone who is experienced in negotiating with the Arkansas State Board of Nursing.

We offer a flat fee pricing of $2,500 to handle alleged nursing board violations. If you value your position as a nurse and have a pending violation with the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, please call us to understand your rights and defend your license.

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